He that slaughtered the Tamid lamb would wait until he heard the bolt of the Great Gate to the Heichal being opened with a long key. We are going to discuss a few things from the tractate Tamid of the Mishnah that will help someone read and understand the Mishnah. One of the things that you are hopefully getting from these studies is learning the idioms, phrases and concepts of the Scriptures and the Jewish people, who the Lord used to write the Scriptures and also how to interpret the writings and teachings of the rabbi’s. For instance, in Tamid 3.8 we have the phrase “from Jericho” is just an idiom for “very loud” and not to be taken literally. Ashes from the Menorah were put into a small vessel called a “Tunay” and then it was put on one of the three steps that a kohen would stand on to trim the Menorah (Tamid 3.9). This was done before the Ketoret service, which was done by a kohen who had never offered incense before (Tamid 5.2)
When the incense was offered, a kohen brought in a vessel that held about 7 litres of incense. IT had a pomegranate on it, and so did the Menorah (Tamid 5.4). In Tamid 5.5 we read about the silver shovel that emptied into a golden shovel when getting ashes off the Altar. Why? This was to distinguish between the holy and the common. Only gold can be used in the Sanctuary. He picks up three kabs (7 litres) of ashes, expecting 1 kab to fall. This will be swept into the Amah (the conduit). When it was the Sabbath, they would put the Psachter over the ashes. Many duties in the Temple would override the Sabbath, but that is not one of them. Sweeping the ashes into the Amah would have to wait. They also put the Psachter over a dead creeping thing.
In Tamid 5.6 we have the Magrefa “making a noise” which means it was blown. This instrument was like a bag-pipe, and contrary to popular belief, bag-pipes did not originate in Scotland. As they reached the space between the Ulam (porch) and the Altar this was blown. At that time, the Kohanim and the Levi’im came running because that meant that the Levitical choir was on the Duchan to sing. The head of the Ma’amad (the standing men) and the unclean were ready at the East Gate, showing they wanted to be there. All of this brings us up to the beginning of the Ketoret service in the Heichal. They came to the steps of the Ulam (Tamid 6.1) and one went to pick up the Tunay on the steps by the Menorah and one trimmed the Menorah, took the Kuz from the second step, and departed.
Then, one took the golden shovel, deposited coals from the Altar onto the Altar of Incense, prostrated and came out (Tamid 6.2). Tamid 6.3 begins to describe the Ketoret service. This is what Zechariah was doing in Luke 1 when Gabriel appeared to him. The fire on the incense altar came from the Altar in the Azarah. The coals were smoothed out, and he waited until the Memunay told him it was time to burn the incense. Now we are going to talk about the Ketoret service, or Korban Ketoret.
The first time the Temple veil (Parochet) was torn there was a great rip and they could see King Uzziah had zara’at (leprosy). Josephus describes this event in Antiquities of the Jews 9.10.4. There was an earthquake referred to in Amos 1.1; Zech 14.4-5 at that time and it was a type of what was going to happen at the crucifixion of Yeshua in Mark 15.38 and Matt 27.51. We have more on this in our teaching “The veil of the Temple was torn” on this site. He went in to burn incense but he was not a kohen. The lesson is you don’t go outside of the tavnit (pattern, shadow) or a tragedy can occur.
The incense was prepared in an expert fashion. The House of Avtinas prepared the incense for the Temple. There was a chamber in the Temple for this, in the same corner building as the Sanhedrin. There are four biblical ingredients but the rabbis said that there were more ingredients given orally to Moses at Mount Sinai. The four ingredients are listed in Exo 30.34. These ingredients in Hebrew are Nataf, Shechelet, Chelbenah and Lavonah. Nataf is a sap from the Balm tree, and these tree’s are near the Dead Sea. Masada was built by King Herod to keep Cleopatra of Egypt from coming and taking this area. Shechelet comes from burning the shell and membrane from a mollusk from the Red Sea. Chelbehah is from the Galbanum tree and Lavonah is frankincense.
The ingredients the rabbi’s say Moses was told to get is Moir, which is musk from the blood of deer from India, or myrrh. Ketziah is bark from the Cassia tree. Shibolet Neird is spikenard, a flower; Carcum is from the dried crocus flower; Kosht is oil from a thistle; Kinnamon is cinnamon from India and there was aromatic bark. They had a problem in getting the percentages right when they try to imitate what the Temple incense was. However, near Qumran in a cave, they found some discarded incense from the Temple. It had been invalid and because of kedusha, they could not just throw it away, so it was put there in a vat. Why it was put there and not somewhere else is conjecture. It had deteriorated, but it could be analyzed.
Three other ingredients were added. Salt from Sidom, called “Melech Sidomit” was added along with “Kipot ha Yarden, or “Jordan Amber” and “Ma’aleh Ashan” which is an herb. This herb made the incense rise straight up. This may be “Leptadenia Pyrotechnica” which is a plant. Many tried to duplicate the Temple incense, but they did not have the last ingredient that made the incense go straight up.
The Temple treasury paid for all the ingredients and the wages of those who prepared it. It was a secret on how it was prepared and passed down from generation to generation. They were only allowed to produce incense for one day, in 365 portions according to the solar year, plus 3 extra portions because of Yom Kippur. If any was left over, it was carried over for the next year at Rosh Chodesh Nisan, the beginning of the religious calendar (Exo 12).
The Tamid service was divided into two parts, the Tamid lamb that was offered, and the Ketoret (incense) service. The Beit Avtinas chamber in the southeast corner building has numerous chambers. The Sanhedrin met in the Lishkat ha Gazit or Chamber of Hewn Stone. The Muchni and the Kior (laver) was in this building. The Ketoret was made “very fine” and in the summer it was spread out to prevent molding. Un the winter it was put into a pile. Nobody could privately make the Ketoret.
We have already discussed the three fires on the Altar. One of the fires was for coals that would go in the Altar of Incense. We know there were four separate lotteries to assign certain duties for the kohanim for the services for that day. One lottery was held outside the Beit ha Moked to see who would go up the Altar to prepare it. Another lot was done to select who would slaughter the morning Tamid. The third lot was done to select who will offer the Ketoret and a fourth was done to see who puts the various limbs of the Tamid on the Altar fire. You would not have lots for the afternoon Tamid. Those chosen in the morning will do the same Avodah (service) in the afternoon, except for the Ketoret service. A kohen could only do that one time in his life, unless you were the High Priest. He can do any part or all the services anytime he desired. He did all of the services on Yom Kippur, so he had to know what he was doing.
Now, when you look at the things associated with the Temple, you will see feminine plural endings (“ah” or “ot” endings). Examples would be “Avodot” for services; “Mishmarot” and “Machlakot” for the courses; “Ma’amadot” for the standing men; “Korbanot” for the offerings. The kohanim were all men, so why the feminine plural endings? Israel was divided into three camps. Machanah Kohanim is the Camp of Priests, the Machanah Levi’im is the Camp of the Levi’im and the Machanah Israel is the Camp of Israel. They are represented in these terms to represent the “bride” in the Temple and being present at a wedding, with the groom being the Lord himself.
So, a lottery was held in afternoon to see who would burn the incense in the afternoon service. There is one other exception to the rule that a kohen could only do this one time in his life. If all the kohanim present in the Mishmar on duty have burned incense before, then they are eligible to burn the incense again.
In Part 5, we will pick up here and discuss more concepts associated with the Ketoret service.